This suit made of mushrooms will give you an eco-friendly burial
You can lead an incredibly green life – cycle everywhere, eat a vegetarian diet and never take flights – but in death, you’re likely to make a sizeable mark on the planet, regardless of your intentions. There are roughly 500,000 deaths a year in England and Wales and the overwhelming majority of the deceased are sent off via cremation – around 75% in 2012, up from 35% in 1960. Cremation is horrible for the planet: you’re looking at a 760 to 1,150-degree furnace, operating for over an hour, using around 285kWh of gas and 15kWh of electricity. Oh, and of course you’re burning a wooden coffin, which ends up entering the atmosphere. Not ideal.
Here’s an interesting answer: the Infinity Burial Suit. It’s a one-piece suit sewn with a mushroom spore-infused thread, which will grow from your body once you’re buried, digesting you in the process.
If this all sounds a little familiar, it’s because the suit’s designer, Jae Rhim Lee, presented the concept in a TED talk five years ago:
Back then, it was just a talking point. Now, the suit is officially accepting waiting list applications, with the first test subject confirmed: 63-year-old Dennis White, who suffers from a terminal disease called Primary Progressive Aphasia.
“I was inspired by the idea that mushrooms are the master decomposers of the earth and thereby the interface organisms between life and death,” Lee told FastCoExist. And she practiced what she preaches, too: Lee picked the strain of fungus for the Infinity Burial Suit by feeding mushrooms bits of her skin, hair and nails to find the most efficient decomposer.
The suits are expected to cost around $1,000, which isn’t too far removed from the standard cost of a cremation. Lee’s company, Coeio, is also planning a smaller burial pod for beloved pets.
“For every person who uses the Infinity Burial Suit, there will be many more who witness the choice to return to the earth and to use one’s body in a beneficial way,” explains Lee. “Cumulatively, this will help create a cultural shift toward a cultural acceptance of death and our personal responsibility for environmental sustainability.”